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Surviving on the Margins of the Economy: Working Relationships in Small, Low-Wage Firms

Paul Edwards and [Monder Ram, De Montfort University]
Journal of Management Studies, 43, 4, 895-916


How do small low-wage firms continue to survive on the margins of a modern economy? Continuous restructuring provides a set of spaces but what sorts of firm occupy them and how far do these firms exercise active choice? Four research projects, embracing data on 123 firms, have offered empirical analysis. The present paper draws together these projects and derives an analytical framework linking the product and labour market contexts of small firms with their family context. Survival reflects the continued supply of labour through kinship networks and the ability of firms to respond actively to product market opportunities. The value of the framework for small-firm research generally is illustrated through discussion of further lines of inquiry.